. . .who has ever said "We don't ever want to be 'fake' like Silver Spring."
Hey, Wheaton? Could you come over here a second? Thanks.
Now please shut up.
As someone who grew up in Downtown Silver Spring before it was Downtown Silver Spring, I understand your pain. I remember walking down streets lined with empty and abandoned buildings and discovering the many ways that different cultures combine bread and meat into various ethnic dishes. (Is it taco, a gyro, or a pita? So many options!) And, yes, I even remember going to Westfield Wheaton before it was Westfield Wheaton, when its tenants included a knife shop and a branch library.
But I don't have any patience for this "I don't want to be like Silver Spring it is so fake" crap, especially because y'all are no Columbia Heights yourselves. Save it, please. I don't see the crowds flooding into Wheaton every Friday night to walk around holding a skateboard and grimacing at people. I don't hear about people paying $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in Wheaton. I hear about public drunkenness and an awesome movie theatre that closed after two months.
Yes, Wheaton is different from Silver Spring. I appreciate that. Yes, Wheaton has lots of small businesses. That's great. I love El Pollo Rico, as well as Full Key, Paul Kee, Max's, the place where the punk club Phantasmagoria used to be (so scary as a little kid), Chuck Levin's (my little brother bought his guitar there and complained the area looked "sketchy"), De Lounge (still haven't gone yet) and DeJaBel Cafe. (I have also heard good things about Marchone's.) And I agree that they're threatened by the ever-lingering spectre of Gentrification, which is sure taking its sweet time. Those townhouses on top of the Metro sold for like $600,000 a couple years back, but their residents are probably spending their time and money at Pier 1 Imports in Silver Spring. (Sorry.)
Remember, Wheaton, you have a mall with "over 200 stores", almost all of which (except for that "Foreign Flix" place) are chain stores. Most every phase of my teenage reinventions took place in Wheaton as I flitted from PacSun to Hollister to Express. I defy you to find that many chains in Silver Spring's entire central business district.
No one is saying that Wheaton has to install a fountain with a colorful mosaic and a plastic turf field and change the name of Ennalls Avenue to Ellsworth Drive. At least, I'm not. But you'll never be anything if you keep going on about what you don't want. I want to hear what Wheaton wants to be. Take that and give it to your elected officials/your citizens advisory board/local developers and tell them "We want X, Y and Z or we will bring you down like Circuit City." Hey, it worked with the Trader Joe's in Burnt Mills. If a group of committed people write enough letters, anything is possible. And now I can have Two-Buck Chuck whenever I want.
So don't fret, Wheaton. No one's calling you Silver Spring North (or Bethesda North East) yet. If you're still feeling cranky later, come along by and I'll give you some tips on how to "brand" yourself so you DON'T become all "fake." Because as I always say, the buildings might be fake, but the people look real to me.